28/09/2011: Cardiff 2-1 Saints

Saints suffered only their second defeat of the season in a frustrating night at Cardiff. Nigel Adkins's men were second best for most of the contest and deservedly came away from Wales with nothing. The hosts dominated the first half and had a number of good opportunities to open the scoring, with Kenny Miller coming closest. Saints looked shaky at the back, and the front two of Rickie Lambert and David Connolly weren't at the races. The visitors did occasionally put a few good moves together. Guly Do Prado had the best chance of the first half when Saints quickly broke on the counter from a goal kick, only for the Brazilian to fire into the side netting.

The second half started in the same vein with Cardiff well on top. It was Saints who had the first real chance however, from a Lambert header that really should have hit the target. Malky Mackay's side took the lead on 56 minutes when the Saints defence let David Marshall's goal kick bounce to Kenny Miller, who lobbed the ball over an indecisive Kelvin Davis. It was an incredibly poor goal to concede. Nigel Adkins sent on Steve De Ridder for Connolly, and the Belgian made an immediate impact, adding a lot more energy. Morgan Schneiderlin should have equalised when he went through one on one with Cardiff keeper Marshall, but it's was always going to be a big ask for the goal shy Frenchman to score two matches running. The hosts doubled their advantage on 63 minutes when Jos Hooiveld gave the ball away to Aron Gunnarsson, who fed Kenny Miller for his second of the night. Moments later Guly embarked on a terrific forward run, before feeding Frazer Richardson, who crossed for Lambert, who saw his header go wide. It was another golden opportunity that on most other nights Lambert would have finished. Most of our good attacking play came from the right hand side, with Guly and Richardson working well together. In contrast, Lallana and Danny Fox underperformed. Fox is yet to have established the same understanding with Lallana that Dan Harding has. When sub Richard Chaplow missed another good chance you just knew it wasn't going to be our day. De Ridder pulled one back in stoppage time with a neat finish from close range, which led to a big push for an equaliser in the final few moments, but Cardiff held strong to see out the win.

A disappointing performance and result, but not the complete disaster some are making it out to be. We didn't play as well as we know we can do, but that's just football, everyone has off days, even the world's best sides. We were beaten at the home of one of the leading teams in our division, there's no shame in that. I was disappointed to be surrounded by fans who reacted so angrily to the display. I have no problem with constructive criticism, but last night there was a section of our fanbase who did nothing but abuse and berate our players, who have all done so well this season. It's not like they didn't try. The only negative thing about our wonderful start is that it's raised expectations too high among some supporters, who think because we battered teams in the early weeks of the campaign we should be doing it every week. Football doesn't work like that, and some fans need to remember how far we've come in such a short period. It's a great time to be a Saints follower, and people need to just accept that we are going to lose every now and then, and continue to support the team. Unsurprisingly most of the moaners left with about 10 minutes to spare last night, while the fans who stayed positive continued singing 'Southampton till I die' right up until the final whistle. As bad as the game was, we could have easily nicked something on another day if Lambert had his shooting boots on. There are still question marks over the defence, but Steve De Ridder continues to impress as an impact sub and will surely be in line for a start very soon.

Attendance: 22,502

Match ratings:

Davis: 5 Hesitation cost us for the first goal.

Richardson: 7. Linked up well with Guly on the right hand side.

Fonte: 6. Reasonably solid, although not quite at the level you would expect.

Hooiveld: 6. Some good tackles, but misplaced pass cost us the second goal

Fox: 6. Still yet to convince. Needs to improve soon.

Guly: 7. One of the few bright spots in the Saints side last night. Looked the most creative going forward, and also defended well, making a number of headed clearances from corners.

Cork: 6. Seemed to suffer a knock early on, which affected his performace. Some good touches on the ball as always .

Schneiderlin: 6. Didn't get into the game as much as he would have liked. Should have scored.

Lallana: 6. Quietest he's been all season.

Lambert: 6. Missed a number of good opportunities to score

Connolly: 5. Worked hard, but things just weren't happening for him. Passing was poor.


De Ridder: 7. Introduction gave us a real boost. Quick feet caused Cardiff problems

Chaplow: 6. Made a slight improvement to the team after coming on.